Life. It sure can be demanding. It sure can be beautiful. It’s a paradox, isn’t it? As I’ve said before, we can learn to “live in the paradox;” it’s how we grow (This is How We Grow, p. 59). It’s where I’m living now.
The Paradox of Life
I’m reminded of the popular theme song from one of my favorite childhood TV shows, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…”—life. Life doesn’t ebb and flow in perfect crests and swells like the ocean. It comes crashing like a thunderstorm on a sunny day—and is just as beautiful. We finally overcome life’s challenges only to find another spell of trouble upon us. We experience pain as, simultaneously, miracles abound.
The past weeks have been such for me—the good, the bad, the ugly…and the beautiful. I’ve been out of touch online and here on my blog, because once again, life has been happening, and when life happens we need to show up and live it.
The Battle and The Beauty
On April 28th, my dear friend took her life as a result of severe depression. She’d left her daughter with me that day, and my family was there for every minute of her story unfolding. She was a wonderful mother and friend and person. A light in every room she entered. She was a second mother to my children. Her three children have been best friends with mine for ten years; I’ve been a “second mom” to them. Now, I really am.
Those who’ve read This is How We Grow, those who know my story, my family’s story, know how close to home this hits for us. It’s been extremely hard, as grief always is. Just as we were finally finding our footing in “normal” life, the heartache has returned—the pain of once more seeing my children in pain as they grieve their “second mom,” of seeing my friend’s children and husband grieve their mother and wife. The sorrow of our community at this tragedy, and how we were hit with a second tragedy just two weeks later, as a young man at our kids’ same school took his life, too.
Yet I have experienced the beauty. The hope of family and community as we have banded together in support and love for the friends we have lost, for their families, and for each other. The outpouring of concern and kindness and generosity, not only for the families in grief, but for my own children, for me, and for others who may be suffering.
May is always a tough month, as many parents will attest. Every project, activity, performance, banquet, ceremony happens in May. We call it May-hem, and it always is—this year even more so. It was beautiful, however, to sit with my husband and our friend’s husband and watch our two daughters, BFFs, emcee the school talent show. There has been beauty in going to plays and recitals and receiving hugs, in feeling so much love as a community. There has been beauty in watching us all work to move on.
At the same time, my second book manuscript was due to my publisher. I tried for an extension since my mind was mush, but was lovingly told it was not possible. This was the one deadline in the contract that was set in stone. Every day for the past month, I awoke, tended to my family and my new “family” (my friend’s), then shoved the grief aside and forced my brain to focus as I wrote. I made my deadline a day early. (The Breakup Breakthrough, with New Harbinger Publications, will be released March 2015.)
In the midst of everything, I had the opportunity to travel to Sacramento, to give a keynote address for the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative and speak the next day at the CA Maternal Wellness Summit. May was Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, and I was fueled by my friend’s death as well as the death of my own sister over six years ago, to speak out and encourage the work we are doing to strengthen and help mothers. No woman, mother, person should ever have to feel so desperate, so alone. We must work diligently to help one another, to care for each other, and to let help in when we need it.
That was the day I learned my memoir, This Is How We Grow, my very first book, had won an Independent Publisher Book Award, an IPPY. I flew to New York last week and was full of gratitude as I received the medal. (More on that here.) The day I returned from New York was the last day of school for my girls, the next day was the last day for my boys, and the next day, last Saturday, my firstborn son, Braxton, graduated from high school.
Now, here I am. The whirlwind of May-hem has abated. My first “baby” has graduated (I’m still emotional about that). Summer is upon us once more (I’m always conflicted when summer begins and know I need a summer sanity plan). I’m back in counseling, once again doing the familiar work of grief and trauma, and I’m trying to continue to practice what I preach—to let myself be in the season I’m in. I need a moment to figure out just which season, or rather, seasons that would be. I haven’t had a moment yet.
Perhaps that’s why I’m taking this moment. Perhaps that’s why I’m writing all this out. I feel…so many things. Hopeful, and sad, and grateful, and exhausted, and loved, and alone, and full of love and loving for one and all. I am seeking peace amidst the whirlwind—and finding it in small moments like this one.
Living the Paradox of Personal Growth
Yes, life is a paradox. As I’ve said before, “Paradox is part of the cyclical nature of things. As we die, so are we born. As we love, so are we left. As we do, so are we undone. Sometimes these cycles feel against nature. But we can choose to let it be…Paradox is the ultimate soil for personal growth” (This is How We Grow, p. 60).
You know I believe in growing. That’s my hope as I fall back into the Fall and Winter seasons of growth once more—that I may continue to feel the Spring and Summer. That I may continue to embrace life, the battle and the beauty.
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow–
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